It might be that they’re so darn big, so otherworldly, or they just relate to children’s slightly feral and ferocious side. Regardless of the reasons, many toddlers develop a huge affinity for dinosaurs. Whether you have a future paleontologist, or just a kid with a giant Jurassic crush, everyone in the family will love these funny, silly, amazing, loving or true books about Cretaceous critters.
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
We have to start with the one you won’t mind reading and re-reading to infinity and beyond. Mo Willems books (if you don’t know Knuffle Bunny, Pigeon and Elephant & Piggie, run to the library right now—we’ll wait for you) are a home library staple for a reason. They make kids read and giggle and you don’t mind reading it for the fifth or 55th time. In this spin on a classic, Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur and a visiting dino from Norway hatch a plot to trap a tasty pudding filled girl, who manages to outwit them. There’s lots for everyone to enjoy and discuss for many years to come. Another wonderful Mo Willems dino-story is Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct.
Best for ages: 4-8
Available at amazon.com, $10.69.
Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaur by Sandra Boynton
This is perfect for baby’s first dino book. If your little one clutches a stuffed stegosaurus in her crib, start her off with this book of opposites. The sing-song rhyming opposing dinosaurs are fun to read aloud and the silly pictures of the board book will have kids turning pages on their own. There are dinosaurs cold and hot, cute and not and kids love them all.
Best for ages: 1-3
Available at amazon.com, $5.10.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
We have to include this whole series of books, with the adorable and child-like dinosaurs. And if you haven’t read any, the original book (this one) is the place to start. For bedtime loathing, dinosaur loving kids, this book is a sweet way to end the night. Every page asks if a dino would do something naughty (and familiar) at bedtime when mama or papa turn out the light, and answers no, this is how a dinosaur says goodnight: just the way we want every good little dino (or human!) to behave. There are now How Do Dinosaur books for lots of situations: Say I Love You, Play with Friends, Clean the Room, etc. But the first is the best. The delightful illustrations add to the charm of the books.
Best for ages: 2-5
Available at amazon.com, $13.07.
Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
The text is simple, the story is sweet and this book has been classic for over 50 years for a reason. Danny visits the museum, sees the dinosaurs and thinks it would be nice to play with one. Overhearing his wish, a dinosaur answers “And I think it would be nice to play with you.” They eat ice cream, go to the zoo, visit the ballpark and have a wonderful day; pretty much every kid’s dream! Both a fun read aloud, and a great early reader, the bonus is that visiting grandparents will totally recognize and remember this book and treasure reading it again, this time to a new generation.
Best for ages: 3-7
Available at amazon.com, $11.99.
Tea Rex by Molly Idle
But, what about kids who like dinosaurs and tea parties? The Venn overlap is larger than you might initially think, and this book is perfect for those kids. (Or families that have one kiddo who loves tea and one who loves the T-Rex.) Can a giant dinosaur follow the rules of an elegant tea? He can certainly try, and with hysterical results. The illustrations are lovely and there’s much to absorb on each page. There are two other books in the series: Camp Rex and Sea Rex, and they are almost as delightful as Tea Rex.
Best for ages: 3-6
Available at amazon.com, $13.62
Dinosaur vs. The Library by Bob Shea
Dinosaur takes on a whole host of things: the Potty, Bedtime, Santa, School and even Mommy! But one of our favorites is Dinosaur vs. The Library, because it’s perfect to read when you visit the library to check out more dinosaur books. In each book, Dinosaur faces a new challenge (in this instance, he roars his way to the library, but while his roar wins friends, it may have met it’s match in the quiet of a library story time.) Can dinosaur learn to use his inside roar? Really fun to read aloud and practice roaring together.
Best for ages: 1-4
Available at amazon.com, $14.31.
Dinosaurs Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
What led to the extinction of the mighty dinosaur? A love of underpants! Or so this story goes, when embarrassed cavemen invented undies because they felt rude being nude, and dinos were so taken with the briefs that they instigated a tug of war that brought an end to the species. It’s totally nonsensical. It’s not remotely factual. So of course kids adore it. While you won’t learn much about how dinosaurs actually became extinct, you will get to see accurate pictures and names of dinosaurs, so even kids who know their stuff will go along with the kooky premise. Because underpants are always funny.
Best for ages: 2-8
Available at amazon.com, $13.59.
Dinosaur Dig! by Penny Dale
If dinos can take tea and wear underwear, they certainly can dig. And dig they do, uniting many tots very favorite things: diggers, dinosaurs and dirt. Each page of this counting book has different species using different digging or construction vehicles, ranging from the T-Rex with the backhoe to the Stegosaurus manning (dino-ing?) the dump truck, so it’s perfect for your toddler or young reader who has trouble deciding which he loves more, the Spinosaurus or the steamroller. If this one becomes a favorite, you’re in luck. There’s also Dinosaur Zoom!, Dinosaur Rescue! and Dinosaur Rocket! by the same author.
Best for ages: 2-6
Available at amazon.com, $13.71.
Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp by Carol Diggory Shields and Scott Nash
This is the one you read before bath time not bed time, since this book will get your little ones up and moving their bodies in a stomp of their own. The rhythmic text begs you to make up your own beat and will get your whole prehistoric gang on their feet, because when dinosaurs want to let off steam, they gather to rock! You’ll learn to pronounce all the dino names as you read and re-read, and kids will chant along with “Boomalacka, boomalacka Whack! Whack! Whack!”
Best for ages: 2-6
Available at amazon.com, $6.97.
Mad Scientist Academy—Dino Disaster by Matthew McElligott
The first book in this new series just happens to be about dinosaurs. And, it just happens to be in comic book format. Which means this is a fantastic transition book for reluctant readers to read to themselves, and it’s such a fun one they’ll be clamoring for the next book in the series, due out in July of 2016. It’s the first day of school for a bunch of different students (including a werewolf, vampire and swamp creature) and their new teacher, Dr. Cosmic. They learn about an exhibit he’s been working on (about dinosaurs) and keeping an eye out for Oscar, the escaped school pet (who happens to be a dinosaur). There’s plenty of actual information tucked away in this fun format and silly style.
Best for ages: 5-8
Available at amazon.com, $13.57.
National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia by Don Lessum
Every obsession needs a corresponding reference book in the home library, and this one is perfect for young dinofans as well as those who have graduated to big kid prehistoric fascinations. While reading it on their own is too hard for little guys, the pictures are wonderful, and when they have questions that you may not remember the answers to (seriously, what’s the difference between a Centrosaurus and Triceratops?), you can look up the answer together. This accessible, visually stunning book is packed with facts kids can use to impress their friends and it will grow with them. Organized by period (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous), it includes over 125 species described in rich detail and featuring facts at a glance. Truly a must have.
Best for ages: All
Available at amazon.com, $16.65.
Jurassic Poop by Jacob Berkowitz and Steve Mack
We have to end with this one that will fascinate the big kid who still loves dinos and doesn’t want to admit it, and is also a fun and funny (and informative!) read aloud for young dino (or poop) lovers. It’s actually a remarkable look at the science of studying fossilized poop, from dinosaurs and other animals, to learn about what they ate and what that can teach us about how they lived. Potty humor plus dinosaurs plus actual scientific investigation makes it an intriguing read for just about the whole family.
Best for ages: 7-12
Available at amazon.com, $14.95.
Do you have a favorite dino-story? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section, below.